First Time Skiing for all the Family
I’m not sure what just happened, but this feels like a good time to pause for reflection and appreciate the view. A swathe of pines, sharply defined in monochrome, separates the distant haze of white mountains on white sky from the ski-lacerated slopes on which I am now lying and on which, until a moment ago, I had been focusing exclusively. That, as Jason calls back to me, is where I keep going wrong. I need to look towards where I want to go, then relax, turn my upper body and allow the rest to follow. It must be an instinct with which we are born but lose some time between the ages of 8 and 41, because my kids are sweeping effortlessly this way and that all the way down to the ski lift with Jason the instructor now in hot pursuit.
It’s our second day at Keystone, and even as I battle to right myself with a technique involving a great deal more effort than grace, I’m very happy with the way it’s going. Stanley’s thrill aversion at theme parks is perhaps rooted in the lack of control inherent in being a passenger on a ride, because there’s no sign of it here. This is as much of a relief as finding padded clothing so shockingly pink that Carla agrees to wear it.
Everyone told us the children would progress much quicker than we would, and everyone was right. It’s clear that Jenni and I are holding the children back in the family lesson already, so as of tomorrow they will go into ski school while we catch up, or at least try to stay in the game, with Jason’s instruction.
Altitude sickness had been another concern, especially coming from sea level. We definitely feel traces of it (lightheadedness, headache, shortness of breath and nausea) and are glad of the precautions we take so that it doesn’t become a problem. Constant hydration and alcohol-avoidance to begin with no doubt plays its part, but waiting until the second day before taking our first ski lesson also pays off.
We mostly spend our first day tubing either singly or in pairs on a choice of five collision-proof lanes, assisted by cheery helpers who send us down any way we want (straight, spinning, fast or slow) and, crucially, by a ‘magic carpet’ conveyor belt to bring us back up to the top. The first time is daunting, but from then on it feels so safe that it’s a great way of calming the nerves we’ve brought with us and of building confidence on the mountain.
Then there’s Keystone’s famous snow fort where kids find out how long their parents are prepared to hang around in temperatures around 25°F while they run riot on its drawbridge, lookout tower, ice throne and snow slide. We manage about 40 minutes, which I reckon is pretty damn good.
By the end of the week Stanley and Carla are fully confident on the blue slopes and want the vacation to go on forever. Jenni and I, however, remain hazardous to ourselves and others on the green slopes and are ready to return to the Florida sunshine. And ski lifts are definitely optimised for children; there’s a lot more to successful disembarkation than ‘tips up’ for anyone over four feet two inches tall!
We shall never be true skiers, but the kids will, and it’s still one of the best vacations we’ve had. With so much physical exertion, eating like horses is a requirement rather than an indulgence, and by mid-afternoon we’re all happy to slow the pace right down and spend time at the lodge in each other’s company. It’s also heartening to see three generations of many families enjoying themselves at the resort. Perhaps this is something we’ll be able to do as a family long after the kids have a choice of how to spend their vacations. There will definitely be more ski trips.